Illuminae follows the story of Ezra and Kady, two 17-year-olds that live on a small mining colony, Kerenza, that is being mined illegally by, WUC, a large corporation. Despite the illegality of the operation, the colony has developed as a regular little metropolis, with schools, hospitals and all the other amenities of urban life.
That is, until a competing company, BeiTech, comes in and tries their best to kill everyone on the planet. Because the colony is illegal, BeiTech knows that if they can keep a lid on it, they can take over the mining without ever being called to answer for their tactics. Unfortunately for BeiTech, survivors are picked up by one military ship, the Alexander; and two smaller vessels from Kerenza also escape. The military grade ship, the Alexander, has been damaged in the skirmish over Kerenza and is unable to create a stable wormhole for the ships to move quickly through the star system, instead limping along for months to the closest station that may or may not offer safety.
The story is told through a series of instant message conversations, interview transcripts, memos, the interpretation of video footage, the internal text of the AI and private journal entries. It is clear from notes attached to all this documentation that the whole has been assembled for someone's review, but it isn't clear who or for what purpose. And how does any of this tie to the title? Hmmm????
As we move farther into the text, the notes fall away and the text is left to stand on its own as we are pulled into the story of the survivors trying to outrun BeiTech's ship, the Lincoln. Several months into the voyage, some other problems begin to crop up, the AI that powers the Alexander, and provides its automatic security has been damaged. AIDAN, Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network, has developed some quirks that are far too reminiscent of HAL in 2001.
Even with all that plot, don't be misled into thinking that this book is all plot and action and no characters. The plot is amazing and there are some nail-biting moments, but the authors do an amazing job of creating developed characters all through text snippets and third party interpretation. Even if you are not a fan of sci-fi, you may enjoy this as we deal with emotional manipulation, PTSD, and issues of what must be done in the name of the greater good.
My one complaint with the ebook version is that because some text is in image format, it is impossible to increase its size, making some pages extremely difficult to read. I would definitely recommend a physical copy.